Category Archives: Caribbean Plus Lit News

Literary news of interest from the Caribbean and wider world

End of Year Book Tag (Caribbean)

No you didn’t sleep through the tail end of hurricane season, Independence season (if you’re in Antigua and Barbuda), nor, heaven forbid, Christmas season, but book blogger Kristen Kraves Books has announced this tag and as a Caribbean literary space, we never miss the opportunity to talk books…Caribbean books. So I’ll be answering the tag questions but in Caribbean. Read through and play along.

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

I don’t remember exactly when I started it but I would love to finish Trinidad and Tobago writer Monique Roffey’s The Mermaid of Black Conch. It’s picked up tons of awards, is in translation in many places, is critically acclaimed, is a book I’ve even used in the Jhohadli Writing Project workshop as it has some great craft moments, but, yes, I still need to finish it and I really really want to.

I should finish it at least before the new The Little Mermaid comes out (right?) just so I can check any notion when I write about it (because it feels like one of those books I’ll be wanting to discuss in Blogger on Books) that non-white mermaids do not exist, because in any world where mermaids exist at all, we’ve been there.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition to the end of the year?

I’m going to interpret this as books with endings since we don’t have autumn in the tropics and I’m going to be very literal about it since I’ve been reading Antiguan-Barbudan writer Gayle Gonsalves My Stories have No Endings, because it’s right there in the title and because I am in sight of the ending. This is an indie which has picked up several indie awards and which I’ve read in waves and stops; hoping to hit another wave.

Is there a New Release you’re still waiting for?

Based on Kristen Kraves Books response, this one is about books that have been announced but are not yet on the market. But I’m going to take the opportunity to boost a recent release from an Anguillan author, Cassilda Brookes who reached out to me recently to share news of the official launch of children’s book Anansi and The Hurricane, which has been in the market since earlier this year.

I met Cassilda when I went to the Anguilla Literary Jollification in 2015 and, a reminder that you never know how your energy is impacting another’s journey, because she said I helped motivate her and I appreciate her saying that. Maybe I needed to hear that. And we stan an Anansi tale in the Caribbean. So much is generational now that I tested this by asking my youngest kid about Anansi recently and, yep, he knew all about the trickster spider so we’re still passing on knowledge of this West African demi-god by continuing to tell our own Anansi tales. This one seems timely too with its focus on hurricane preparedness.

What three books you want to finish before the end of the year?

I would like to finish books I’ve started before turning to new books, so I’m going to list three in-progress books. Jamaican writer Curdella Forbes’ Songs of Silence, set so far in rural Jamaica, Reclaim Restore Return: Futurist Tales of the Caribbean edited by Barbadian writer Karen Lord and Grenadian and US and British Virgin Islands author Tobias S Buckell, and Fortune, which is shaping up to be a historical epic beginning in the oil fields of Trinidad, by T & T writer Amanda Smyth.

Is there a book that could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year?

I don’t think I’d be shocked but, keeping it Caribbean, I have finished and am working on my review of New Daughters of Africa. This book is almost 800 pages and there were times I thought I wouldn’t finish it. It was a marathon and right now, in addition to the review, I am working on a paper focussed on Caribbean authors in NDOA for the Antigua and Barbuda Conference, organized annually by the Antigua Studies Association, and focussed this year on “The Current State of the Global Black Struggle”. It’s in a couple of weeks. I may be in over my head.

Challenging as this book was in terms of sheer volume, it is easily a top tier read, and, yes, possibly my favourite of the year.

Have you started making reading plans for 2022?

I don’t make reading plans as such, though I do have an ever-growing TBR and do want to get caught up especially on Caribbean releases of the last few years. As there’s lots of exciting new content and I haven’t been able to keep up.

How about you?

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid September 2022)

A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back, or, if looking for an earlier installment, use the search window. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information – it is understood that this is the original sourcing and additional research would have been done by me to build the information shared here – credit and link back if you use).

News

African American actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, daughter of Jamaican designer Ivy Ralph, has won her first Emmy, long overdue after decades in the entertainment industry, for her supporting role on the hit comedy Abbott Elementary. She had words of wisdom for all the dreamers.

Sharing just as much for that reminder “don’t you ever, ever give up on you”, as for the original Dreamgirls’ Caribbean bona fides. (Source – Twitter)

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News of the passing of Britain’s queen, Elizabeth the second, has ignited conversation around the world – certainly it is dominating chatter on western media. There are, of course, the expected condolences, the unfortunate gossip, but as the conversation continues, a re-examination of the relationship between Britain and Commonwealth countries (in this case those in the Caribbean where the relationship was marked by the enslavement of Africans to build British wealth over hundreds of years including colonisation, both on the Continent and in the Caribbean, that continued thereafter in to the late monarch’s reign). It is this latter discourse that landed two prominent Caribbean writers and activists – Jamaican dub poet Mutabaruka and Antiguan and Barbudan writer Dorbrene O’Marde, both active in the push for reparations – in the segment below on the US’ Democracy Now!

Tl; dw? Mutabaruka sums it up with this assertion of what they expect of the new king, Charles: “He must understand how we feel as African people in this part of the world.” (Source – YouTube)

Opportunities

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is now open for submissions. The prize is £2500 pounds for regional winners and £5,000 overall. Winning stories will also be published online and in a special print collection. Judges are looking for “memorable stories, well written stories, stories from places they haven’t heard from before.” The prize is open to any one from a Commonwealth country who is over 18. Previously published stories are not accepted. (Source – Commonwealth Writers on instagram)

See other Opportunities with deadlines here.

Events

Bocas has been marking Trinidad & Tobago’s Independence 60th anniversary celebrations with a series of activities this September, spanning Independence Day, August 31st 2022 to Republic Day, September 24th 2022. Still to come (at this writing) are Voices of History (September 15th 2022), featuring newly commissioned writing telling the stories of “lost voices”; Letters to the Future (September 15th 2022) by 2021 NGC Youth Writer of the Year Harmony Farrell, fiction writer Rashad Hosein, and poet Ronaldo Mohammed; and Coming and Going, a conversation with Barbara Jenkins (The Stranger who was Myself) and Ira Mathur (Love the Dark Days) moderated by Andre Bagoo whose latest book The Dreaming also landed in September. (Source – Bocas email)

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The Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival is live this year after two years online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Events will also stream on their YouTube. Here’s the line up:

Friday 9th September 2022 – 6 p.m. – I belong to the House of Music
Saturday 10th September 2022 – 4 p.m. – The Caribbean Pantheon: Goddesses and the Divine in Caribbean Spirituality
Sunday 11th September 2022 – 1 p.m. – Black Powerful – How One Trinidadian Man changed the Landscape of Language Forever
Sunday 11th September 2022 – 4 p.m. – Laureates of the Caribbean – The Rum Bar Lime

Register here. (Source – BCLF email)

Books

I’ll mention the 2021 Perito Prize Anthology for two reasons. One, I have a story in it and I have blogged about the book, which was an interesting read. Also, the deadline for this year’s prize is October 1st, and there’s a cash prize for the winner plus publication for the top entries (not sure if there’s a fixed number). Check it out and see if it’s for you and check out our Opportunities Too page so you don’t miss any submission deadlines. (Source – me & The Practicing Writer Newsletter email)

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Canada-based, Trinidad-born Dionne Brand’s latest book Nomenclature collects eight volumes of her previous works, from 1982 to 2010. It, also, includes a new poem “Nomenclature for the Time Being”. The other big news for the multi-award winning writer is that she is now heading the new publishing imprint at Knopf Canada, Alchemy. Brand’s accolades include the Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry and the Trillium Book Award for her 1997 collection Land to Light On. Her collection thirsty won the 2003 Pat Lowther Award. In 2009, she served as the poet laureate of Toronto. Her novel What We All Long For won the City of Toronto Book Award in 2006. She won the 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize for Ossuaries and in 2017, she was named to the Order of Canada. Her latest books include the novel Theory and the poetry collection The Blue Clerk, which was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry. (Source – JR Lee email)

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The Bread the Devil Knead, shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022, is available in audio book, narrated by the author Trinidad and Tobago writer Lisa Allen-Agostini.

Photo of Lisa Allen-Agostini by Margaret Busby.

The recording was done locally at Future Crab Studios Ltd, is available on Audible, and can be sampled here. (Source – Lisa Allen-Agostini social media)

Accolades

Former West Indies cricket captain, and Antiguan and Barbudan, Richie Richardson, and St. Vincent soca artiste Beckett will receive honorary doctrates at the University of the West Indies Five Islands campus, in Antigua, on October 8th 2022. (Souce – Daily Observer newspaper)

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Martinique-born director Euzhan Palcy will receive the Governor’s Award from the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences in November 2022. She is one of four recipients.

“The Academy’s Board of Governors is honored to recognize four individuals who have made indelible contributions to cinema and the world at large,” said Academy President David Rubin. “Michael J. Fox’s tireless advocacy of research on Parkinson’s disease alongside his boundless optimism exemplifies the impact of one person in changing the future for millions. Euzhan Palcy is a pioneering filmmaker whose groundbreaking significance in international cinema is cemented in film history. Diane Warren’s music and lyrics have magnified the emotional impact of countless motion pictures and inspired generations of musical artists. Peter Weir is a director of consummate skill and artistry whose work reminds us of the power of film to reveal the full range of human experience.” (Oscars.org)

Palcy’s films include César Award winning (for best first film) Sugar Cane Alley, which also won the Silver Lion award at the 1983 Venice Film Festival, a first for a Black director; A Dry White Season, the first major Hollywood film directed by a Black woman; and musical fairytale Siméon. She’s also directed a number of documentaries and television projects. (Source – N/A)

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Congrats to the winners of the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival Elizabeth Nunez short story prize, Bahamaian Alexia Tolas and Yvekia Pierre of Haiti. The latter is the winner of the prize for a Caribbean writer inthe US and the former is Caribbean-based.

Alexia shared her joy on social media: “It’s a winner! I’m so excited and thankful to the organizers and judges for this year’s Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival 🥰. This story is near and dear to my heart – a story nearly five years in the making. It’s changed a lot over time, and sometimes I felt she’d never work, but knowing that someone laughed, someone’s gut pinched, and someone’s arm hair stood up makes it worth the while. I’m honored, and I can’t wait to share this story of love, obsession, and cuckoo soup with you all 😊.” (Source – Alexia Tolas on Facebook)

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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ICYMI: Antiguan and Barbudan Artistes Discussing Art

Last year two Antiguan and Barbudan writers – Joanne C. Hillhouse and Rilzy Adams – were among the Caribbean writers of romance interviewed by the podcast Tim Tim Bwa Fik. You can find links to those interviews, both in two parts, in the Wadadli Pen A & B Artistes Discussing Art page – that and a lot more local creatives discussing aspects of their art. It is one of the pages in our R & D that is updated as often as we find new interviews to share. Here are excerpts from the page. Click the page title to read or watch or listen to more.

“When writing, where this was concerned, the one thing that I really wanted it to feel like and be like was Antiguan… I was very intentional with everything from the food choices to the music…but I also wanted them for the most part to be not necessarily heartwarming but …my general brand, for everything I write…Antiguan, full of love, and spicy.”

Rilzy Adams, a past Wadadli Pen finalist and subsequent patron, now romance novelist and lawyer

“Part of it is that I knew that world: I was the girl with the guitar slung over her shoulder, going to practice, playing in the choir, being shy about it, being self-conscious about walking with the guitar..for me the interesting things were the kids discovering their love of art, and discovering their potential within the art space, and connecting with each other through art…”

Joanne C. Hillhouse, Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator, now president of Wadadli Pen inc, author

“I don’t think about it like that. I just tell the story. Sometimes the protagonist is a child, sometimes a teen, sometimes an adult, sometimes an old person, sometimes a jelly fish named Coral.”

Joanne C. Hillhouse, #gyalfromOttosAntigua

“I didn’t know I wanted to tell stories. I knew I wanted to write and I thought I wanted to write about my mother and me, and a lot of my writing is about mother and daughter. But really I could early on see before any critic, I may have pointed it out to critics, that I was really writing about imbalance of power.” 

Jamaica Kincaid, internationally acclaimed, from Ovals, Antigua

“The biggest wall I encountered, not that there weren’t others, but the biggest was my own fear. And once you get through that fear/feeling of will people understand this, will people accept this, are people gonna see my vision, once you go through that then everything else tends to be a lot more easy to deal with.”

Jelani ‘J-Wyze’ Nias, Canadian writer with Antiguan roots
J-Wyze (Jelani Nias)

Remember, to read, watch, or listen to more, go here.

Once you’ve viewed the page (that page, not this one; this is just a sample), link us to any interviews we may have missed by emailing wadadlipen@gmail.com

Also, if you would like to volunteer with Wadadli Pen and help us do what we do (especially if you’re a college student and potential intern), reach out via wadadlipen@gmail.com

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

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Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late July 2022)

A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back, or, if looking for an earlier installment, use the search window. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information – it is understood that this is the original sourcing and additional research would have been done by me to build the information shared here – credit and link back if you use).

Projects

The latest NGC Bocas 100 Caribbean Books that Made Us latest project is a podcast. The first installment finds Trinidad and Tobago Commonwealth and Bocas award winning writer Kevin Jared Hosein ruminating on No Pain Like This Body by Harold Sonny Ladoo. Listen here. (Source – Bocas email)

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Antigua Communications Specialist – and former Wadadli Pen judge – Brenda Lee Browne has shared a call for submissions to the Interreg Caraibes Caribbean Digital Film Library project. This project aims to document, digitalise and create a comprehensive digital library of films by and about people living, working, creating in and about the Caribbean. Film in this context includes and is not limited to: family home movies; feature films; documentaries; news clips; special events, interviews etc. These films can be made by amateurs, film makers, individuals, news organisations, sports/community and institutions – no genre or format is excluded. Browne is the inventory officer for Antigua and Barbuda. Her deadline to submit a comprehensive report of what films are available here and if they require special attention due to age, format etc. is August, 2022.

The Interreg CINUCA project is a collaborative project supported by APCAG and their partners: the
EPCC Tropiques Atrium Scène Nationale (Martinique), the association Guyane-Cinéma Audiovisuel et
Multimédia (the G-CAM-Guyane) (French Guiana), the production company Lee Productions Inc.
(Saint Lucia), and the production company Hama Films (Antigua and Barbuda). The project is
co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), under the Interreg V Caribbean
programme. If you have films you’d like added to the library, contact Brenda Lee Browne at brendalee.browne@gmail.com (Source – Brenda Lee Browne email)

A screening of Dr. James Knight’s documentary Nobody Go Run Me at UWI (Mona) in Jamaica.

You may know that I have been building a play and screenwriting data base here on Wadadli Pen, which I will be sharing with Brenda Lee, as I look forward to how this project develops. Remember if we have missed any screenwriting credits in our database, please share.

Opportunities

An Antiguan and Barbudan poet and former Wadadli Pen finalist has an opportunity to pursue further studies and you have an opportunity to help. Her name is Hilesha S. Humphreys and she has received the opportunity to study Ceative Writing at California College of the Arts’ MFA programme. Her writing focuses on abuse and centers the feminine experience. To take advantage of this chance Hilesha is requesting assistance to fund her studies. For more information, please email: hileshashumphreys@gmail.com  

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The Bocas Lit Fest’s Children’s Book Prize, sponsored by the Wainwright Family remains open to Caribbean authors resident anywhere in the world until the end of August. Started last year, the prize is given to one outstanding English-language children’s book for young independent readers. The Prize consists of a cash award of US$1,000. Last year’s winner was When Life gives You Mangoes by Jamaican writer Kereen Getten. The prize is judged by an independent panel of children’s literature experts. The panel is joined by a young reader who will contribute to selecting the winner at the second stage of judging. Eligible are works of fiction (including short story collections and books in verse), literary non-fiction and graphic novels written for independent readers ages 7 – 12 . Works of drama, multiple-author anthologies, picture books, textbooks or instructional manuals are not eligible.  Stories should be told primarily through prose. The book can include illustration, but should not rely primarily on visual storytelling and should have at least 1,500 words. Details here. (Source – Bocas email)

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This one is mine, my Jhohadli Writing Project; specifically, my once-a-month workshop session available to participants from anywhere and ideal for writers with works in progress. So far this year, participants have checked in from the US, Trinidad and Tobago, and Antigua and Barbuda, and participant goals have included advancing and receiving feedback on manuscript in revision, jump starting new writing, and learning more about the world of professional writing. What are your goals?

See this and other pending deadlines at Opportunities Too. (Source – Me)

Accolades

An Antigua Carnival update – Nekirah Nicholls of St. Kitts-Nevis won the Jaycees Caribbean Queen show ahead of runners up Trinidad and Tobago’s Chronna Khan and St. Lucia’s Wenia Verneuil.

Pictures (them in their introductory national costumes and them in their evening gowns during the prize giving) are from the Miss Jaycees Queen Show – JCI Antigua Facebook page. (Source – the Daily Observer newspaper)

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The Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival Elizabeth Nunez prize longlists have, in short order, become one of the most anticipated rollouts of the year if you’re a short story Caribbean or Caribbean diaspora writer. These are the lucky ones in 2022 (Congrats to them all):

For the Caribbean prize (for Caribbean-based Caribbean writers)# – Bahamian Sara Bastien (“The Girl with Your Grandmother’s Eyes”) and Alexia Tolas (“The Fix”); Barbadian Martin Michael Boyce (“In the Secrets Place”), Callie Browning (“The Science of Garbage”), and Gregory Anderson Fitt (“Don’t Cry Precious Baby”); Bermudian Yesha Townsend (“Fishing”); Guyanese Jarryl Bryan (“Shemroy Cusbert”) and Cosmata Lindie (“Starchild”); Dominican/Kittitian-Nevisian Yakima Cuffy (“The Eleventh”); Jamaican Topher Allen (“A Familiar Friction”), Kellie Martine Magnus (“One for the Books”), Tonia Revers (“Hear Yah Now: Conversations”), Damion Spence (“Bull Buck and Duppy Conqueror”), Chaneka Taylor (“Salted Wounds”), and Stacy ann Williams-Smith (“Rio Cobre”); St. Lucian Alicia Valasse-Polius (“Beekeepers”); St. Vincent and Grenadinian Janielle Browne (“The Saddest Part”) and Denise Westfield (“The Valley”); Trinidad and Tobagonian Patti-Ann Ali (“Marley in a Maxi”), Lisa Allen-Agostini (“Meeting Beverley Jones”), Kirk Bhajan (“The La Diablesse of Ecclessville”), Christie Borely (“They lived Together”), Vishala Christopher (“Jumbie like Long Hair”), Rachel Espinet (“Davindra and the buck”), Lynette Hazel (“02.12.20 (Jumbie Make to walk the Road)”), Caroline Mackenzie (“Girls in the Dark”), Brandon McIvor (“Red Hand on a Smoking Gun”), Charmaine Rosseau (“A Real Place”), Portia Subran (“Please Take One”), Kwame Weekes (“Green Thumb”), and Sunil Whittle (“Rockette”).

For the Caribbean American Prize (for US-based Caribbean writers) – Barbadian Elizabeth Best (“Soup on Sunday”) and Rachelle F. Gray (“Peter 3:15”); Dominican Republican El Don (“Amaris Castillo”); Guyanese Elesa Chan (“Jumbie”); Haitian Yvika Pierre (“Nadege goes Home”); Jamaican Jazz Sanchez (“Cook Soup”); *Nicaraguan Marilyn Enriquez (“Devil’s Hole”); St. Lucian Catherine Esther Cowie (“Who wants to look like a Frenchman?”); Trinidad and Tobagonian Keisha Ali (“Uniform”) and Tricia Chin (“Genesis”).

*Nicaragua, I have learnt, despite being Central American, has a major Caribbean influence on its Atlantic coast – including Afro-descendant English speaking Caribbean towns and indigenous (e.g. garifuna) communities.

(Source – BCLF Facebook)

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Artistic director with the The Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts in the Bahamas for 40+ years, Philip A. Burrows, has been awarded the Order of Merit in the country’s 2022 Independence Honours list. Burrows has directed well over 100 productions, taught acting workshops, and written for the theatre; and is notably a founding member of Ringplay Productions and co-founder of the Shakespeare in Paradise theatre festival. Burrows has presented a number of Bahamian productions in the US, UK and throughout the Caribbean, and directed a number of National Events, from Cacique Awards to Independence shows, and both productions honouring Sir Sidney Poitier. There may be other people in Bahamas arts on the list – congrats to all. (Source – Facebook)

Content

You may know that this website tries to archive published reviews of books and other applicable content by Antiguans and Barbudans. The latest installment in this series includes reviews of my books Musical Youth (“a wonderful read” – RunWrightReads, “beautiful book” – Book of Cinz), The Jungle Outside (“masterful use of sensory details” – ACalabash), and (surprisingly) Oh Gad! (“an expansive page-turner” – ACalabash)as well as of the film The Sweetest Mango (“avante garde” – Karukerament), our first feature length film, and Pepperpot, a regional anthology in which I have a story, “Amelia at Devil’s Bridge” (“will make you shiver” – The Opinionated Reader). You can help build this and all of our data bases in two ways – applying to volunteer as a social media intern and sending us tips (and practicing patience when you do). (Source – Me)

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My CREATIVE SPACE art and culture series continues its every other Wednesday publishing schedule in the Daily Observer newspaper and online with extras at my Jhohadli blog. At this writing, the most recent installment asks “Do You know this Man?” while showcasing the careers of 1940s town crier and calypso pioneer Quarkoo and his all but forgotten 1800s to 1900s predecessor Thomas Joseph.

Working on this story, I am reminded of a friend’s feeling about firsts – that often someone did it before, we just don’t know or don’t remember.

(A humbling example of which for me is when years after I started Wadadli Pen certain I was doing something that hadn’t been done as there had been nothing like Wadadli Pen in my becoming, which was why I started it in the first place, I found out, on discovery of the 1979 publication Young Antiguans Write: Prize-winning Selections in Poetry and Prose from School Creative Writing Annual Competition, 1968-1978 , that an annual writing challenge for and publication of youth writing in Antigua and Barbuda for the primary purpose of literary development, was not new. Probably wasn’t new then. It only felt like I was inventing not reinventing the wheel because the car had broken down and been left to rot at the side of the road. I don’t know quite what happened but I do not remember this or any programme of this type (not counting Independence and Tourism essay competitions) existing as I came of age and came in to being as a writer in the 80s nor through my young adulthood in the 90s. And while this could very well be my ignorance, I had not even heard of it. This realisation in part fuels my motivation – though I don’t have institutional resources behind me as that project did – to create a record of our literary history and to not to be another start-and-stop-did-it-even-happen local arts initiative – there’ve been a few, stalled mostly due to lack of resources – but to find a way to keep it going with or without me, which is one reason I pushed for us to become a legal non-profit, daunting as that process has proven to be).

So, in the vein of things being lost, some of Thomas Joseph’s legacy has been folded in to Quarkoo’s, some has been all but erased. Notably, his authorship of “Man Mongoose” – a song popularized as “Sly Mongoose”, that was first recorded in Trinidad, and is thus credited as such, a song that has since been reproduced in many different genres and formats over the years and across the world. I must give credit to American researcher Dan Lanier, who on seeing my Quarkoo post on this site, reached out to ask me about Thomas Joseph and connected me to more about both men than I had previously known. This is one of my favourite CREATIVE SPACE articles of the year because of the connections it makes on and off the page; I hope you’ll give it a read. And if there’s to be intra-island beef over the authorship of “Sly Mongoose”, make it tasty. (Source – Me)

Events

The Antigua Jazz Project has announced a concert, “A Night for Statchel” Version 3.0, Vince McCoy and Friends, featuring Khadijah Simon and Mind Sound, Acoustic Infusion, and The Antigua Jazz Project. It’s 7 p.m. at Pink Mongoose Studio on Friars Hill Road on August 6th 2022. Proceeds in aid of the St. John’s Hospice and Asita Ngash. (Source – postcard picked up at Best of Books bookstore)

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No Panorama? No Problem! The Caribbean Union Bank Hells Gate Steel Orchestra presents it’s “Pan Rhapsody” competition on Saturday 6th August at the Villa Primary School, Antigua. 4 Groups, with up and coming Arrangers will contest this musical showdown.

(Source – Hell’s Gate on Facebook)

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Jamaica and specifically reggae and specifically Bob Marley is now in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and specifically the Black Panther verse with the release of the first trailer for the second Black Panther film: Wakanda Forever. The music featured is Marley’s “No Woman No Cry”, sung by Nigerian vocalist Sems, seamlessly segueing in to US rapper Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”. Of course, the box office breaking, critically acclaimed, and popularly embraced, rare Black-centered series already had a Caribbean presence with Tobagonian Winston Duke as Mbaku and Letitia Wright, Shuri, being Guyanese.

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Book of Cinz – a Caribbean book platform whose initiatives include a global Caribbean-focussed virtual book club and the #readCaribbean hashtag which promos the reading of Caribbean books in June – is having its first reading retreat in Dominica, with less than a handful of spots available. It will be at SeaCliff Cottages between October 15th and 20th 2022. Secure your spot here. (Source – Book of Cinz email)

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We are all invited to listen in on The Caribbean Development Bank funded Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund Creative Talks on Festival Futures in the Caribbean.

(Source – CIIF email)

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It being Carnival season in Antigua, there will be a steady stream of events in the latter part of July in to early August. I can’t report on them all but I’ll share what I can, especially the new and unusual. Like the July 22nd 2022 Band Meet Band Showdown at Carnival City. It seems to be a project of the Antigua and Barbuda Jam Band and Soca Association and the Ministry of Creative Industries and Innovation. The listed line-up includes Sir Oungku and Red Hott Flames, Daddy Barlo and Revo Band, TKO Band featuring Laurena Davis and Ebony T, Byke and Enegee Band, High Tempa, and more. (Source – DJ Ibis on Instagram) & this massive event honouring the Monarch King Short Shirt:

(Source – Facebook)

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This event is passed but if you’re a regular here you know that won’t stop me from mentioning it, plus it continues to make news. Dotsie Isaac has donated proceeds from her showcase “Senses: an Evening of Poetry and Music” to the Antigua and Barbuda Heart and Stroke Foundation. Isaac, a former Wadadli Pen judge, has also revealed plans to make “Senses” an annual event.

Poet Dotsie Isaac is seen in this Laura Hall photo participating in a joint Wadadli Pen-Museum fundraiser (Word Up!) in 2006. Isaac has also served as a judge (2011) and as a special guest at the awards ceremony (2015).

(Source – Daily Observer/Antigua)

***

July 20th 2022 is the red-carpet, invitation-only premiere of documentary film Redonda: the Road to Recovery. Wide public screenings begin at Caribbean Cinemas on July 21st (image from Lawson Lewis’ facebook) with advance tickets of only $5 available at the Environmental Awareness Group office or online via the Ticketing app. The doc which is about the recovery of the Antigua and Barbuda offshore island was teased when I interviewed director Lawson Lewis in May 2022 for my CREATIVE SPACE series.

Lawson Lewis on the job.

(Source – Daily Observer newspaper/Antigua)

***

July 29th 2022 is African Dress Day in Antigua and Barbuda, the kick-off of the Reparations Support Commission’s Emancipation Day celebrations. The highlight of the celebrations will be, per usual going back 14 years, Watch Night. Date and venue is July 31st the Botanical Gardens. It will be a night of cultural performances, including staples the Nyabinghi drummers and various singers, dancers, and more.

Calypsonian/calypso writer King Zacari, seen here performing at the NVSP awards years ago, is one of the announced performers at this year’s Watch Night. (File photo by Joanne C. Hillhouse/do not reuse without permission or credit)

(Source – Daily Observer newspaper/Antigua)

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late June 2022)

A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back, or, if looking for an earlier installment, use the search window. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information – it is understood that this is the original sourcing and additional research would have been done by me to build the information shared here).

OPPORTUNITIES

The Bocas Lit Fest Children’s Book Prize is back. It is given to one outstanding English-language children’s book for young independent readers, written by a Caribbean author. The Prize consists of a cash award of US$1,000, and Caribbean-born authors, resident anywhere in the world, of English-language books which have been published between 1 August 2021 and 31 August 2022 are eligible. The prize is open for entries from 20 June 2022 to 31 August 2022, and the winner will be announced in November 2022. The 2022 prize is administered by the Bocas Lit Fest, and is sponsored by the Wainwright family. Read about this and other opportunities with pending deadlines in Opportunities Too here. (Source – Bocas email)

STAGE

Late Bahamian-American actor and director Sidney Poitier’s life is being adapted for the stage. The source material will be his memoir The Measure of a Man. Poitier spent his youth on Cat Island in the Bahamas before migrating to the US in young adulthood and going on to a stellar career, which includes being the first Black man and only the second Black person to win an Academy Award when he won best actor in 1963 for his performance in Lilies of the Field. Poitier died in January of this year. (Source – The Root)

VISUALS

Barbados has tapped star architect David Adjaye (the Ghanaian-British architect responsible for designing the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.) to design its Barbados Heritage District as a testament to the island nation’s culture and identity. Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced the plan, which is to include a memorial, a global research institute, and a museum that will tell the story of slavery’s impact on Barbados and its inhabitants. The district will also house the Barbados Archives, a massive historical catalogue documenting 400 years of the slave trade in tens of millions of pages of documents. The archive, which includes sales ledgers, ship registers, manumission papers, and other documents, is one of the largest repositories of the British Transatlantic Slave Trade in the entire world. When complete, the center will be the first research institute based in the Caribbean dedicated to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. (It would be remiss of me, however, not to mention the African Slavery Memorial Project of Antigua and Barbuda which has been shared on this site before, including its plans for construction of a museum, also previously mentioned on the site). The first step in the development of the district in Barbados will be the building of the Newton Enslaved Burial Ground Memorial next to the site where the remains of 570 West African slaves were found in low earthen mounds and graves using LIDAR technology in the 1970s. Read more about the memorial which breaks ground in November 2022 here. (Source – friend in real life)

***

Barbadian visual artist Sheena Rose will be showing in ‘Holy Water’, an exhibition at the Eric Firestone Gallery in East Hampton, NY. The Zoe Lukov curated exhibition featuring 20 artists and exploring the mundane and mythological aspects of water. The show opens July 2nd and closes July 24th 2022. (Source – artist’s facebook)

EVENTS

Early in June, the organizers of the St. Martin Book Fair observed the 20th anniversary of the festival. Shujah Reiph, founder and coordinator (with Conscious Lyrics Foundation), said, “The journey that we began 20 years ago out of a Creative Writing Program organized by the House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP)not only gave birth to the book fair but to a new generation of St. Martin authors, many of whom contributed with youthful exuberance to the organization of the St. Martin Book Fair. We have had a symbiotic collaboration with HNP from the get-go. And with the University of St. Martin (USM) as
well. Our modest ambition was to have a book fair that would bring the entire family closer to the book and,among other things, show as a lie the saying that if you want to hide something from a Black person, put it in a book.” Activities at the popular event included author and publicist roundtables, readings, masterclass, exhibition, and more featuring Yvonne Weekes, Sharma Taylor, Lasana M. Sekou, Max Rippon, N. C. Marks, Yona Deshommes, among others. (Source – House of Nehesi Publishers email)

***

The Antigua and Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra, a youth development non-profit music programme in Antigua and Barbuda is preparing (at this writing) for a musical event featuring movie theme songs. The event is scheduled for July 3rd 2022. Event details here.

(Source – Facebook)

FAREWELLS

I keep changing this sub-head title, not quite knowing what’s a fitting send-off, always wishing I didn’t have the need to include it. This is where we salute the ones who have impacted Caribbean art and culture, and there have been too many of these farewells by COVID and other means – but exacerbated by the pandemic – in recent years.

Renowned Antiguan and Barbudan pannist Victor ‘Babu’ Samuel has died. He passed on June 28th 2022, two years after a stroke diminished his capacity to function. Babu is one of our country’s most celebrated pan arrangers – notably for his work with one of the winningest pan orchestras, Halcyon (video link to an upload of the 1990 panorama tune arranged by Babu on the Halcyon Orchestra facebook page). He has also been a key figure in pan development through his work with the National Youth Pan Orchestra. His work bringing pan to the Police Marching Band was also acknowledged just this year. Babu was also well known as a pan soloist – regrettably I have not been able to find video of a Babu performance (and once again bemoan our failure to capture and catalogue the vibrancy of our Culture as a matter of intent/purpose). The last time I saw Babu was just before COVID at Carnival, a year in which Halcyon – again one of Antigua’s winningest pan orchestras – had to opt out of panorama due to lack of funds (at least that’s what he said to me when I asked him as we passed each other on Market Street during the Carnival parade). I don’t have a recent interview with Babu (whom I profiled years ago for a limited run newspaper column I called Vintage – there’s a lot from my archives that I need to dig through and share and this is one of them) but credit to Petra the Spectator for posting this interview with him in 2021.

Credit also to rival band Hell’s Gate for recently organizing Play one for Babu, fundraising concerts that were also a celebration of the art form that Babu loved so much. Catch the vibes (image borrowed from Hell’s Gate’s facebook page).

(Source – Observer Media by Newsco Ltd facebook page)

***

Lynn Sweeting of the Bahamas is known to us here on the Wadadli Pen blog. I posted an interview with her in 2012. She was committed to amplifying female Caribbean voices, our art and our words, and did via the Womanspeak journal.

Some of Lynn’s poetry has been shared by her friend Nicolette Bethel who edited and published the online Tongues of the Ocean literary journal. You can read her eulogy and the poems here. And like Lynn wrote in one of those poems, remember

“Fear is the meaning of their favorite song,
but not the meaning of yours.
Love up your own self fearlessly.”
(from ‘Wheelbarrow Woman’, Tongues of the Ocean, 2009)

The last Womanspeak was published in 2018 and I know at least one was in the works after that and had to take a pause, and maybe now a full stop, in light of everything. (Source – Nicolette Bethel on Linkedin)

***

Antigua and Barbuda is mourning the passing of prominent son Gordon ‘Banks’ Derrick. Though he is best known for his contributions in sports administration (as president of the Caribbean Football Union and general secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association) and business, I add him here for the reason Cricket Association head Leon ‘Kuma’ Rodney said.

“Banks was not only known in football, but he was a Carnival man and came out of one of the better organised promotion groups, DSC Promotions, and there was a Mas’ troupe as well in Xtreme. He was chairman of the soca monarch when, I think, we had one of the biggest soca monarch shows ever in Antigua under the chairmanship of his buddy, Neil Cochrane.”

Signature DSC events included pre-Carnival fetes before pre-Carnival fetes (not including calypso tents) were their own cottage industry, notably Calypso Spektakula, which launched in the mid-1990s. He chaired the Party Monarch committee during its upsurge (between 2005-2007) to the head of the pack as far as popularity of main show Carnival events are concerned. He’s also a former chair of the Independence committee and co-founder of one of the original all-inclusive party mas bands, a pressure point between mas’ past and current flavours, Xtreme mas, which first hit the road in the late 1990s. I remember, I was there, for Spektakula limes and that first year of Xtreme. Banks’ death caught the community by surprise, prompting former West Indies cricket legend and fellow Antiguan and Barbudan Sir Vivian Richards to say, “It’s just some sad news today and I am going to agree with the rock group that sang ‘I don’t like Mondays’ because it’s a punch that hits you where it hurts.” (Source – Observer Radio 91.1 FM)

BOOKS

Puerto Rican writer Xavier Navarro Aquino in January 2022 released his debut novel Velorio with Harper Collins press. Velorio–meaning “wake”–is a story of strength, resilience, and hope; a tale of peril and possibility buoyed by the deeply held belief in a people’s ability to unite against those corrupted by power.

***

Fashanu Henry-Giddings has published her book Reading is Fun & Andre and the Bully. It’s her first book and it’s been added to the Children’s Literature and Antiguan and Barbudan Writing listings here on the blog. Congrats to her and to illustrator Anderson Andrews. (Source – email)

ACCOLADES

A street in Harlem has been renamed for founder of the Antigua Progressive Society Bishop James P. Roberts Sr. He worked as an elevator operator while pursuing studies at night after migrating to the US. He and 22 fellow Antiguans (Barbudans were later brought in) founded the group in 1934 during the Great Depression, to provide support for new immigrants. The Society has owned the brownstone at 12 West and 122nd Street where it is still headquartered since 1964. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)

***

Canada based Jamaican writer and current poet laureate Olive Senior has received an honorary doctor of laws from Canada’s York University. “Nothing has prepared us for the moment, but we can seize it with courage and curiosity,” Senior said during the convocation ceremony. (Source – author’s twitter)

***

The Antigua Film Academy, the educational arm of the Motion Picture Association of Antigua and Barbuda, has had a short film, ‘Nobody hit me Pickney’, accepted to the Commffest Film Festival, September 15 – 22 2022, in Toronto, Canada. The script was reportedly developed by the Academy students during their two-week theory workshops and filmed over a period of time. Dr. Noel Howell, filmmaker and head of the Film Academy told the Daily Observer that the mix of practical and theory is part of the AFA’s summer workshops. The workshop’s 2022 dates are July 11 – 22. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)

***

Canadian writer and producer of Antiguan-Barbudan descent Motion (Wendy Brathwaite) and Andrew Trotman-Burrows who is of Guyanese descent are two of only three people selected for the inaugural CBC-BIPOC TV & film showrunner catalyst programme. The other is Tanzania-born Ian Iqbal Rashid who is of Indian descent. The Showrunner Catalyst offers a high-level professional coaching opportunity, designed through an anti-racist and equity-focused lens, and provides participants with additional tools and support systems necessary to reach a showrunner level in the Canadian film and television industry. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, BIPOC TV & Film and the Canadian Film Center have made an initial commitment of three years to the program, with the opportunity to renew. (Source – BIPOC TV & Film on Linkedin)

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Antiguan-Barbudan Writer, Wadadli Pen Founder to Read at World Poetry Festival – How to Watch

To Watch – Click the Image and set your reminder where ever you are.

August 10th 2021 – 8 p.m. if you’re in Antigua and Barbuda and/or the Atlantic Standard Time (AST) time zone.

Please double check the time where you are by doing the time zone conversion – isn’t google great!

Related links:

Programme – 31st Festival Internacional de Poesia de Medellin

Joanne C. Hillhouse – Antigua Y Barbuda – presentation samples

Jhohadli – Appearances

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, The Jungle Outside, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on AmazonWordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid August 2021)

Happy Emancipation Day (August 1st 1834).

A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back, or, if looking for an earlier installment, use the search window. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information – it is understood that this is the original sourcing and additional research would have been done by me to build the information shared here)

Philanthropy

How can you help the arts?

For one, the Bocas Lit Fest has a Friends of Bocas initiative, inviting participation from individual stakeholders (regular people). For a contribution, you get access to a whole host of exclusive activities. Our winning Wadadli Pen writer of 2021 was gifted membership access as part of his prize thanks to Bocas, in addition to workshop access to some of our other finalists. Want to get in on the action while supporting the work? Details here.

Passings

Flags are being flown at half mast after the August 9th announcement of the passing of former Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister and National Hero Lester Bird in early August. Bird who was only the country’s second prime minister after Independence, and successor to his father, often referred to as Father of the Nation and National Hero Vere Bird Sr., was also author of two books found in our literary database of books by Antiguans and Barbudans on this site: Antigua Vision – Caribbean Reality: Perspectives of Prime Minister Lester Bryant Bird and The Comeback Kid: An Autobiography of Sir Lester Bryant Bird K.N.H. with Lionel Max Hurst.

***

Milton Benjamin, veteran journalist from Antigua crossed over late in July. His passing in part inspired me to write about Antigua and Barbuda’s media culture in my first CREATIVE SPACE of August which you can read here.

***

Kassav, the Guadeloupe band whose ‘zouk-la’ had the ability to enliven any soca fete I’ve been to has lost co-founder Jacob Desvarieux, also in late July. His passing brought forth an outpouring of tributes, like this one that landed in my inbox from Karukerament.

***

Jamaican writer Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, associated with the early dub poetry movement, has also passed on the ancestral plane. The Jamaica Observer reports.

(Source – the local news I heard about locally, the others via social media)

Events

Antiguan and Barbudan author and Wadadli Pen founder-coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse will be reading at the Medellin World Poetry Festival (virtually) on Augutst 10th 2021 at 8 p.m. AST. Here’s how you can watch.

***

The Caribbean Style & Culture Awards. See site.

Accolades

ETA: The BCLF list below is of Caribbean writers resident in the Caribbean. Above is the long list of Caribbean writers resident in the Caribbean. It includes 9 writers from Trinidad and Tobago, 5 from Dominica, 5 from Jamaica, 3 from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 1 from Barbados, 1 from Puerto Rico, 1 from St. Lucia, 1 from Guyana, 1 from Grenada, and 1 (Joanne C. Hillhouse) from Antigua and Barbuda. Click images to enlarge.

The Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival’s short story competition has been one to watch. And we’re watching this incredible 2021 long list.

Congratulations to the 22 long listed writers. The wealth is spread on a list that includes 7 writers from Trinidad and Tobago, 5 from Barbados, 3 from the Dominican Republic, 2 from Jamaica, 2 from Guyana, 1 from Dominica, 1 from Puerto Rico, 1 from Haiti, 1 from St. Lucia, 1 from Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, and 1 from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. No your math isn’t wrong, you know how it is in the Caribbean – some writers are from multiple places. (Source – Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival facebook page)

***

Belated congratulations as well to St. Lucia’s Canisia Lubrin, who with The Dyzgraphxst (poetry, McClelland & Stewart) becomes the third St. Lucian to claim the main Bocas prize after Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott (White Egrets, poetry, Farrar Strauss Giroux, 2011) and Vladimir Lucien (Sounding Ground, poetry, Peepal Tree Press, 2015). Other winners of this coveted main book prize and its considerable purse have been the British Virgin Islands current Poet Laureate Richard Georges (Epiphaneia, poetry, Out Spoken Press, 2020), Jamaica’s current Poet Laureate Olive Senior (The Pain Tree, fiction, Cormorant Books, 2016) and, also of Jamaica, Kei Miller (Augustown, fiction, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2017), and Trinidad and Tobago’s Earl Lovelace (Is Just a Movie, fiction, Faber & Faber, 2012), Monique Roffey (Archipelago, fiction, Simon & Schuster, 2013), Robert Antoni – of Trinidad descent and raised in the Bahamas -(As Flies to Whatless Boys, fiction, Peepal Tree Press, 2014), Jennifer Rahim (Curfew Chronicles, fiction, Peepal Tree Press, 2018), and Kevin Adonis Browne (High Mas: Carnival and the Poetics of Caribbean Culture, non-fiction, University Press of Mississippi, 2019.

***

Canada-based Gayle Gonsalves of Antigua and Barbuda was a National Indie Excellence Awards finalist for her latest book My Stories have No Endings. (Source – the author’s social media)

Publications

Barbados’ Shakirah Bourne is now out in the world even as she works on its follow up.

***

New Anansi

The author is from Trinidad and Tobago. I haven’t been able to find more information about it, which is odd. (Source – JRLee email)

***

It occurs to me that I’ve, not by design, reviewed a number of books by Dominica’s Papillote Press – perhaps more than any other Caribbean press, because they proactively reach out with ARCs, no pressure if I can’t read the books right away. I generally have enjoyed their catalogue, what I’ve read of it and thought I’d share my reviews.

Dangerous Freedom by Lawrence Scott – currently reading
Guabancex by Celia Sorhaindo
Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini
The Art of White Roses by Viviana Prado-Nunez
Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay

***

Impact Magazine dropped in May 2021 (I believe). I thought I’d mention it as it describes itself as the newest source of entertainment and lifestyle news from Antigua, the Caribbean and the world at large. (Source – N/A)

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, The Jungle Outside, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on AmazonWordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late July 2021)

A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back, or, if looking for an earlier installment, use the search window. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information – it is understood that this is the original sourcing and additional research would have been done by me to build the information shared here)

Events

See my upcoming events here.

Books

Former Jamaican poet laureate Lorna Goodison’s new book is Mother Muse. Details here. (Source – Repeating Islands – shout out to JRLee email for the link)

***

“We all want to keep you safe, especially your father. He was very

lucky: he didn’t get sick. Problem is, if you leave quarantine, he could

catch it from you, and it would make him a lot sicker than it made you.

It’s kinder to children, you see. And when it gets into you, it doesn’t

want to leave. If something else makes you sick, or very tired, the gray

pox will wake up again, and this time it could make your father sick, or

anyone else you might sneeze on.”

from The Plague Doctors by Barbadian speculative fiction author Karen Lord in Take Us to a Better Place – read more about it on my Jhohadli blog

Lord’s story’s inclusion in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2021, edited by Veronica Roth, has recently been announced. (Source – Karen Lord’s twitter)

***

Praise Song for the Widow by late Barbadian writer Paule Marshall has been re-issued. I actually studied this book in university – and that’s probably the main reason I wanted to share this. But it’s not just about personal preference.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is paule-marshall.jpg

Praise Song is listed among QBR: The Black Review’s 100 essential Black books and is a 1984 American Book Award winner.

The new McSweeny’s hard cover edition, part of its Of the Diaspora series of previously published Black books, came out in April 2021. It includes a new introduction by Jamaica-born writer Opal Palmer Adisa. Praise Song for the Widow was originally published in 1983. (Source – AALBC email)

Accolades

Past Wadadli Pen finalist Rilys Adams (writing as Rilzy Adams’) Go Deep has been experiencing an award winning successful run. Recently we also picked up this mention in bookriot.com on a list of ’15 of the Best Erotic Short Stories and Novellas’.

“An all-time favorite book and one of the winners of The Ripped Bodice Award for Excellence in Romance Fiction, this little novella is simply wonderful.”

See more Reviews for books by Antiguans and Barbudans in our series on Antigua and Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed.

***

Canisia Lubrin, a Lucian based in Canada, has been announced as co-winner of the second annual Derek Walcott Prize for her collection The Dyzgraphxst. She will split the US$1000 prize with Serhiy Zhadan for A New Orthography. They were selected from a field of 20 poets. Canisia is also the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize Canadian winner. (Source – JR Lee email)

***

Linda M. Deane claimed Barbados’ Frank Collymore Award, which comes with a $10,000 purse. The prize was for her poetry book An Ocean Away. Sixty manuscripts were in the running for the 23rd annual FCA. (Source – JR Lee email)

You should know that…

Caribbean Books Foundation has launched a new initiative to promote new Caribbean books. Read about it in the Book promotion section of our Resources page or go straight to the source. (Source – Caribbean Books Foundation email)

***

While updating the CREATIVE SPACE master list since its migration to the Daily Observer newspaper, I decided to link here two entries of possible interests to artists who venture here.

Beyond Talk?‘, about a Culture, sorry, Creative Industries, initiative to survey the arts in Antigua and Barbuda toward assisting us in accessing opportunities. I know, it sounds familiar, but the whole crux of the article is the reasons we have to be wary and why the person I spoke with believes this time will be different – maybe it’s a fool me once, situation, maybe not; either way I want artists in Antigua and Barbuda to have this information and decide if they trust it and if they wish to act on it.

&

Arts Support: Walk That Talk, about a region-wide arts grant programme in response to the hit taken by everyone, including artists, this past year. Some countries – not Antigua and Barbuda – also had arts grants. Obviously, we’d like to see more but sharing what I’m aware of for now.

Plus this post about Wadadli Pen – ‘Creating Space for Literary Expression‘. (Source – Me)

***

Video of the V I Lit Fest can be viewed online. (Source – VI Lit Fest email)

***

Dena Simmons, a New Yorker of Antiguan descent has been announced as one of two plenary speakers – the other being Emmy award nominated Scandal and Little Fires Everywhere actress Kerry Washington – at the Grantmakers for Education Annual Conference set for October 2021. The educator and activist “writes and speaks nationally about social justice and culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogy as well as creating emotionally intelligent and safe classrooms within the context of equity and liberation.” This will be the 25th anniversary of the Grantmakers for Education Conference. (Source – Linkedin contact)

***

The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books is now available online. Current and back issues have been uploaded to the Antigua and Barbuda Studies Association website – also new. ABSA is responsible for the annual Antigua Conference, held since 2005.

Dr. Paget Henry, pictured here at a past conference at the Enlightenment Academy, is one of the chief members of the ABSA, editor of the A & B Review, and convener of the annual conference.

The site also currently has information on the next conference including the call for papers. Check it out. (Source – office of Paget Henry via email)

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, The Jungle Outside, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on AmazonWordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

Leave a comment

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Caribbean Literature Day

July 12th 2021 has, as of last year, been dubbed Caribbean Literature Day. Shout out to St. Martin’s House of Nehesi Publishers for coining it in 2020.

Days like this are an opportunity to draw your attention to the literature that gets crowded out by more mainstream titles – and, unfortunately, even in the Caribbean, books from up North still define mainstream. But between #readCaribbean and #Caribathon during Caribbean American Heritage Month (i.e. June, which was also Pride Month and Black Music Month; World Environment Day, June 5th, was also in there making for the most intersection of observances all around) and now Caribbean Literature Day, we’re pushing back, baby.

I thought I would focus here on Wadadli Pen on the often overlooked solo pieces published in journals and anthologies – the readership is small which is unfortunate because some of them are quite good. If I had my way, I would popularize them with dramatized readings for radio. I’ve actually suggested that to local radio but been ignored. Maybe it’s a question of money; the rights of the pieces would have to be secured, voice actors would have to be paid etc. But it would be dope, the appetite for story is not the problem but access either due to money, availability, or even someone not realizing that they might be interested because, I hate to tell you, but if you like movies or mêlée, you like story.

One of the things I’ve tried to do here on the Wadadli Pen blog is share pieces I find in the Reading Room and Gallery series which is 41 deep at this point, a curated salon that you can chill in and come back to at your discretion – how cool would it be if we had the resources to turn it in to a real virtual salon for an immersive reading/listening experience. The arts need money, I tell you.

The other way I try to amplify these literary bites is by sharing every published or performed poem or short story or intertextual piece I can find in one of our many data bases – with the only proviso being it be a real credit (i.e. published in a journal, performed at an official lit event, that sort of thing). For many writers these are the foot in the door that, if the foot is not squeezed out and the door slammed, can lead to a writing career. It was for me.

Let me tell you about BIM.

BIM: Arts for the 21st Century edited by Barbados Poet Laureate Esther Phillips is perhaps the oldest surviving literary journal in the region that is still publishing and relevant today – and even BIM has an uneven publishing life.

Image, dated 2014, borrowed from the facebook page of the Nature Island Literary Festival.

BIM was started in 1942, edited first by E. L. Cozier, then by Frank Collymore, who shepherded many of the pioneers of the Caribbean literary canon in to the published world until he gave up the role in 1974. Per the about page of the BIM website, publication became irregular after that, and in 1996 went in to a long hiatus that didn’t end until the relaunch in 2007.

This is around the time that I became aware of BIM and I was a hungry young writer who wanted in. When I learned of the BIM event celebrating Caribbean women writers, I wrote to Phillips introducing myself and my at the time two published books – The Boy from Willow Bend and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and she didn’t ignore me, as happens. In fact, before I knew what had happened (forgive me if I’m sketchy on the details, it’s been a while), I was on a panel with the likes of Ramabai Espinet, the Indo-Trinidadian Canada-based author of The Swinging Bridge; Curdella Forbes, the US based Jamaican author whose latest book A Tall History of Sugar won the Hurston Wright Fiction prize; Trinidadian poet and artist, Bocas prize winner for Doe Songs, Danielle Boodoo Fortune; Bermudan writer Angela Barry, author of Goree: Point of Departure; and Barbadian poet Dana Gilkes.

This isn’t a books post but see in bold several books you could be checking out (of your library or book store, online or brick and mortar) this Caribbean Literature Day.

Anyway, the imposter syndrome was real but I was also excited to be at this event where reconnections were forged, new friendships made, I soaked up knowledge, and moved the needle a little as a #gyalfromOttosAntigua inching in to the Caribbean literary canon, or trying to.

Publishing in BIM became a goal and, no matter the stage of your career, there is nothing so humbling as submitting to and being rejected time and again by journal editors. They are often brisk and to the point, if they take the time to give you specific feedback. And getting specific feedback – hurt though it might – is actually a good thing; it means that they see you, they just don’t want you quite yet. So you get back to work.

The piece that ended up landing me on the pages of BIM was initially workshopped over at the Caribbean Literary Salon (RIP to that valuable space). It’s a story about a big head boy, teased for that big head and other things, published as What’s in a Name in BIM: Arts for the 21st Century Volume 7 in 2015. See the time gap? Getting in was a hallelujah moment.

I have a bad habit that – with the possible exception of The Caribbean Writer – once I’ve published in a coveted publication I move on to climb the next mountain. New goals. So publishing in BIM again wasn’t something I really-really went after again. Maybe I didn’t want to kill my high at being published by giving them the chance to reject me again. Which is not to say that I never submitted again because I did for the current publication (and I do think the year we’ve had has something to do with me going for it) and one of my submitted pieces was accepted.

I’m always a little jazzed when a poem is accepted because I don’t consider myself a poet though I have published so many poems in journals at this point that that’s a lie. Maybe something to do with one of my more scalding rejections, from a revered Caribbean editor and mentor being “your poetry is not up to the standard of your fiction”. Rejections don’t stop me even when they scald, I keep working, keep submitting, and it’s …nice…when something gets through. I tell that story still not because it’s baggage but because I hope it will inspire some other writer, whether rejected by Wadadli Pen or your dream publication; don’t give up. Maybe your writing could be better, you’ve always got to entertain that possibility, or maybe it’s just not it’s time. Either way, keep writing and keep trying.

And read, read a lot.

I’m still reading the current issue of BIM: Arts for the 21st Century and you should to. You should also check out the journaled writings by Antiguans and Barbudans I’ve compiled here on the blog, so many that they are divided alphabetically A to M, N to Z.

Happy Caribbean Literature Day.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, The Jungle Outside, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on AmazonWordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business

When You’re a Caribbean Gyal in a Big Book World

This is an article I started shopping a little too late, a little over a month ago (hoping it would find fertile ground with June being Caribbean American Heritage Month). Give thanks for blogging. Sharing here with minor edits to the original draft. Share your thoughts.

If you were on #bookstagram or book twitter during the month of June, Caribbean American Heritage Month in the US, you might have happened upon a little hashtag catching fire, #readCaribbean. It’s the brainchild of Cindy, BookofCinz on instagram, Caribbean Girl Reading the World on twitter; also in June, June 9th to 18th in 2020, on booktube and bookstagram, is the Caribathon, run by Jamaica-born ComfyCozyUp and RunWright Reads.

Why all this Caribbean book love, you may ask.

“I love sharing my culture as well as other cultures in the Caribbean,” ComfyCozyUp said in the 2021 Caribathon announcement on YouTube.

Cindy has given her purpose as creating awareness about Caribbean literature, Caribbean authors, Caribbean heritage, and showcasing the Caribbean voice while maintaining how unique each island is. Of course, the challenge is to find Caribbean books, read them, chat about them, hashtag them, but Cindy also directs the reading with challenges within the challenge to #readCaribbean that include instructions to read Caribbean poetry, queer lit, folklore, women, indies, and various islands (my response to Cindy’s challenge here).

I wanted to write, as a Caribbean reader and writer, why these initiatives not only matter but why they excite me so much.

It is primarily because I am a Caribbean reader and writer from a 108 square mile island, a dot on the map, we may joke, even while our national ethos is “we bigger dan dem” because, while not small in our own minds, we are keenly aware of our place in the global scheme of things.

It is primarily because I am a Caribbean reader and writer from a 108 square mile island which bigger-better-known Caribbean islands may unironically call “small island”. Our most famous writer (daughter of Ovals and one of my favourites) is named for one of those bigger islands Jamaica and wrote a really thought provoking book about home called A Small Place.

It is primarily because I am a Caribbean reader and writer from a 108 square mile island who five times out of 10 when I’m outside the region and say I’m from Antigua gets, in response, “Jamaica?”, “Montego Bay?”, or depending on how far I’ve travelled, a blank stare, that has me fishing around for some connective thread between their world and mine. Viv Richards usually works because most of the world, or at least the former British empire, which is to say Britain and her stolen common wealth (on which the sun never set), plays cricket and Sir Isaac Alexander Vivian Richards is the winningest captain of the West Indies Cricket Team and was named one of Wisden’s top 5 cricketers of the 20th century. He is from Ovals, Antigua.

It is primarily because I am a Caribbean reader and writer from a 108 square mile island I described, in my well-travelled piece on Writing off the Map, as being “far from the world where books are made and dreaming impossible dreams is encouraged” in describing my journey to becoming a published writer in a world where, with some very few exceptions, Caribbean writers don’t even have prominence in Caribbean bookstores, nor gallingly those bookstores in Caribbean airports.

I am a self-described #gyalfromOttosAntigua. Growing up in Antigua and Barbuda, which became politically independent from Britain in 1981 when I would have been eight years old, two years or so before cable TV saw us swarmed with content out of America, another type of colonization, most of the entertainment we all consumed, with the exception of two weeks of Carnival in the summer, was from, as we say, “overseas”. How pervasive was this? Well, I just wrote that Carnival was in the summer and I live in “the tropics” where it’s summer all year round. How many books, TV shows, movies, songs, advertisements do you think it took for a little girl from an island in the Caribbean to internalize the idea of seasons. I mean, we had seasons in the Caribbean – Carnival season, mango season, hurricane season etc., but the spring, summer, fall/autumn, winter thing is wholly imported. So, more recently, are concepts like Halloween and Black Friday which have become quite popular here as well, even as people of my generation bemoan that they’ve usurped Guy Fawkes, which I remember fondly because we lit starlights and fireworks, what we called “bombs”. Guy Fawkes was, of course, another imported observance, this one of a failed gunpowder plot in Britain back in the 1600s. As a child, I knew as much about that as about why we sang London Bridge or Ring-a-round a Rosey in schoolyard playgrounds.

We, in the Caribbean, like to think of ourselves as a pepperpot, creole, a mix up mix up of influences though primarily of African origin. African origin, British and more recently American cultural and institutional dominance (I would say American cultural dominance, especially in the age of streaming and social media, and British institutional dominance certainly in the structure and mindset of our public sector), and a mélange of other people and influences. My mother is from the English speaking French and English Creole island of Dominica and a lot of the Caribbean – Dominica, Jamaica, Indo-Guyana – meet in Antigua, where a sizable percentage of our population is from the Dominican Republic, and also Europe, the Middle East, and increasingly China. Variations of the same all across the Caribbean, the mixes and seasonings varying based on political and economic influence and the movement of people.

What does all of this have to do with the #Caribathon and #readCaribbean? Well, to a greater degree than we like to admit much of what we consumed – so many of the books we consumed in school and for leisure – were not written by Caribbean authors. We were an Enid Blyton, Archie comic, Judy Bloom, Trixie Belden, Mills and Boon, Wakefield Twins reading people, and the discovery of our own voices, and we are still discovering them, speaking for myself, had to be a deliberate act because the other stuff was so comparatively easily accessible. My dad used to bring home books and magazines left behind by tourists (which by default meant white people) at the resort – most Antiguans and Barbudans worked in resort tourism after the death of the sugar trade, before my time. The West Indian/Caribbean canon did exist but the image of those books in a glass cabinet locked with a key at the library, at the time a room above a storefront on the main road through St. John’s City, because, yes, even islands have distinctions between city/town and country, crosses my mind as an apt metaphor for our relationship to those books. You had to work to get to them, unlock something. For many in the Caribbean, the introduction to Caribbean literature was a school thing – the story of Millicent by Merle Hodge, later Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipauls’ A House for Mr. Biswas for which I wasn’t ready (a struggle). Shakespeare, too, but I had the opportunity to re-meet the Bard under more receptive circumstances in my college years. And then, of course, he was all across popular culture – Hollywood loves a Shakespeare adaptation almost as much as a Jane Austen, whom I also studied in college. So I was primed. For many a Caribbean child, though, I’d venture, our school-based introduction to Caribbean texts as texts, defined a relationship akin to healthy eating with these books.

Two of my books, The Boy from Willow Bend and Musical Youth have been and are on schools reading lists in the Caribbean. Of course, like any author, I hope the students who are introduced to them embrace them, and not just endure them.



The beauty of initiatives like #readCaribbean and Caribathon is the opportunity to discover the joy in the Caribbean canon, the reading of Caribbean books widely and plentifully, as Antiguan-Barbudan calypsonian Singing Althea once sang, just for fun. Because Caribbean reading is not just healthy eating, though it can be. It is bananas – tasty and rich, mangoes – too rich but so good, soursop – good and thick, gynep – it has layers, man; it is all the things you can eat – the things that give you running belly to the things that make you hopped up on endorphins. It is a varied and tasty buffet of bookish goodness, and as with a buffet, you’re sure to find something to sate your literary palette.

Little known fact, from erotica to romance to historical dramas to scholarly tomes, the Caribbean’s got you covered; and the discovery of that canon is the point of these hashtags.


That both initiatives got going in 2020. Actually #readCaribbean was coined in 2019, but 2020 was a year in which the Black Lives Matter social movements, among other shifts in thought and action, propelled people to consume content formerly at the margins, the Black story. Sure, they ran full pelt toward The Help, initially, but hopefully social media driven nudges toward #ownvoices content that include #readCaribbean and Caribathon, because our stories too are part of this conversation, will open up the reading experience of eyes that usually default to more mainstream material. All these euphemisms. White people, the white experience, the white gaze, western stories (not the old west, the western hemisphere); that’s the default, and as I’ve shown, not just in America, but in America, yes.

When I posted about #readCaribbean on my blog at the start of June 2021, a couple of positively encouraging responses (from white women, judging by their avatars though I can’t say which country) suggested that while they hadn’t thought (or thought much) about it before they were now. “I’ve read a couple of these authors, but that’s it. I really need to branch out in my reading, so thanks for the recs.” – one wrote. Another – “I didn’t know June was #ReadCaribbeanMonth! I’m bookmarking this post to see which of these books I can find at my local library.” The most interesting comment for me though was the one who said that while they’d read and found interesting two of the books I’d listed, two modern Caribbean classics by the way, they were hard to follow because of “all the stuff with the mongoose … and all the dreamy, surreal sequences.” I appreciated the candor. But I have to admit I ruminated over this comment quite a bit before responding, wondering if it was just a matter of taste or limited exposure, because surrealism, symbolism, and magical realism is such a normal part of Caribbean literature beginning with the Anansi tales and Jumbie stories so many children of my generation, children of the 70s and 80s, grew up on that not only weren’t these wrinkles in my reading of the named books, they were part of the beauty and poetry of them. I said as much. But this continued to turn over in my mind. (Allowing for personal preference, of course) Was it possible to be so used to story told a particular type of way that other ways felt off? Well, of course, that is part of the problem with a reading diet – not speaking to this individual commenter, who as a book blogger I suspect reads more widely than most, but to reading habits generally – largely limited to a single food group. It’s bland and a little pepper makes it taste over-seasoned; when that’s just flavour, baby.

Last year, in an online book group, I saw enthusiastic readers posting stacks of books as part of their mission to read Black for Black History Month. The stacks included The Help, again, and To Kill a Mockingbird which, while a personal favourite from secondary school, are not #ownvoices Black books – a la Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage, an Oprah’s Book Club pick which also deals with wrongful prosecution of a Black man (read my review).

It reminded me of how important it is to be as conscious in pushing books, as Oprah has to a degree (boosting authors like Toni Morrison and Edwidge Dandicat) written by Black and Caribbean writers, as I and others have had to be about deliberately seeking out and reading Black and Caribbean books. Even and ironically especially when we come from a predominantly Black country. Because, per the fine print, we are also former colonies of European countries and endured hundreds of years of being trafficked into the dehumanization of chattel slavery and post-slavery inequities that the labour movement of the 1930s, through the Independence and pan-African movements of the 1960s through 1980s, even to the reparations movement that gathered focus 20 or so years ago are still in the process of dismantling. We’re working through some ish. The #readCaribbean and Caribathon initiatives are as necessary for us, discovering and rediscovering and affirming ourselves, as for those who have been denied variety by a publishing and book industry that too often plays it safe by not publishing diversely nor properly promoting the diverse books that are published.


So, that’s why I was excited as a reader and as a writer, but most especially as a Caribbean person about initiatives like #readCaribbean and Caribathon.

Post-script: And this was my first #booktube reading wrap up (which is not exclusively #Caribathon and #readCaribbean related but does reference it).

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, The Jungle Outside, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on AmazonWordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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